At 107 feet in length, West Bay’s newest SonShip is the British Columbia-based yacht builder’s largest pilothouse motoryacht to date. West Bay founders Ben and Leidy Vermeulen will spend the next few months voyaging aboard the new vessel, christened Lady Aleida, giving it the ultimate shakedown cruise.
The Vermeulens have already cruised from British Columbia to Southern California in Lady Aleida, they are currently cruising off Mexico and they will eventually head to Costa Rica. Later, they will arrive on the East Coast in time for the boat to appear in a series of boat shows.
From the roomy cockpit to the spacious flybridge, from the aft deck to the boat deck, and from the proper pilothouse to the country kitchen-style galley and dining lounge, this remarkably outfitted new boat is a serious long-range-cruiser’s dream.
We tested the 107 on a foggy fall morning off Southern California’s Newport Harbor. Our test boat was provided by Bill Danzig, vice president of sales/Southwest region for SonShip Yacht Sales of California, the new West Bay dealer in Newport Beach. The boat was also provided through the courtesy of Ben and Leidy Vermeulen, who joined us on the sea trial.
We had seven adults aboard for our cruise off Newport -- and if we had brought along 20 guests, the boat still would not have seemed the least bit crowded. The evening before our sea trial took place, the 107 had been the site of a huge grand opening party for SonShip Yacht Sales of California’s new office at Lido Marina Village, with at least 50 guests mingling happily aboard.
The 107 was given wide, well-protected walk-around decks, an important feature for any practical cruising yacht. On this 24-foot-beam motoryacht, having wide sidedecks doesn’t make for a cramped saloon as it does on many smaller boats. There is space for everything -- and it is well-thought-out space.
We ran the boat from the 107’s expansive flybridge -- which is roomy enough to include a six-person hot tub, a barbecue, a wet bar, a large settee with table and three comfortable Stidd helm seats. A large aft boat deck provided even more room -- for a 3,000-pound-capacity Steelhead davit, a Rendova rigid-hull inflatable dinghy and a 16-foot Boston Whaler center console.
After cruising through Newport Harbor at no-wake speed, we headed offshore. Although our test boat carried a full load of fuel and water, plus cruising gear and provisions, we quickly achieved a top speed of 24 knots at wide-open throttle, at 2,200 rpm, thanks to twin 1,800 hp MTU-DDC 16V-2000 diesels.
High cruising speed is at around 20 knots, at around 1,900 rpm. However, the boat’s most fuel-efficient low cruising speed for long offshore runs is at 8 knots. At this speed, each engine consumes about one gallon of fuel per mile.
Unlike smaller boats with planing hulls, the 107’s hull doesn’t get out of the water to achieve performance -- it simply pushes the water out of the way. Throughout our cruise, the decks stayed dry as the flared bow deflected water aside.
This was a smooth-riding, solid-feeling boat at all speeds. “Turn the wheel, and it carves into a turn like a big 107-foot Ferrari,” exclaimed the Vermeulens’ captain.
It was also a remarkably quiet-running boat throughout the entire rpm range, both on the flybridge and belowdecks.
While this is a big boat, it has several features that make it remarkably maneuverable. Along with full flybridge and pilothouse helms, the boat offers multiple control stations -- including controls on each side of the flybridge helm and cockpit, for easier docking. Wesmar bow and stern thrusters help make it simpler to finesse your way in and out of a tight slip.
The 107 also offers a Wesmar stabilizer system, for comfortable cruising in a full range of sea conditions. Running gear is extraordinarily beefy, with stainless steel rudders and V-struts large enough to track well in powerful seas. The massive deck hardware is equally impressive, crafted of gleaming stainless steel.
Our test boat was equipped with a sophisticated electronics package, including Simrad 48- and 72-mile radar, an onboard PC with a Logitech wireless mouse, an onboard camera system (with cameras in the cockpit and engine room), DDEC engine data displays and a 10,000 candlepower searchlight.
While this boat has sophisticated capabilities, it is designed to be simple to maintain. In the spacious engine room, adjacent to the aft crew quarters, there’s an automatic oil change system (along with storage tanks for both used oil and lube oil), a fuel transfer system and a self-watering battery system that tops off the batteries without owners having to remember to do it themselves.
“The 107 is built to be a user-friendly boat,” Danzig explained. “Too many boats in this size range are overly complicated. On this boat, everything is straightforward, so owners can concentrate on cruising.”
A Sea Power Systems Smart Shore Power Box allows owners to hook up to dockside power anywhere in the world and have it automatically transformed to suit onboard current requirements. Additional belowdecks equipment includes a 4,000 watt inverter system, 32 kw and 40 kw Northern Lights auxiliary generators and a central vacuum system.
While the boat’s cockpit offers all the features an angler could ask for -- including a tackle center, two chill boxes, a sink with a fillet board and a bait tank -- it also is nicely equipped for those who want to enjoy swimming or diving. Notable features include a cockpit shower and underwater lighting that illuminates the area around the swim platform.
The aft deck, a few steps up, offers a comfortable settee and table for alfresco dining or snacks, along with a wet bar.
Forward, the saloon is outfitted for elegant entertaining and lavish living aboard. Along with a wet bar, a hide-away flat-screen television and a large settee with an adjacent table, the saloon offers a separate formal dining area with a table that seats eight. There’s a glassware storage cabinet, a wine cooler, cabinet storage for the vessel’s flatware and china, and two Sub-Zero freezer drawers to hold cruise provisions.
Steps leading belowdecks, to the amidships full-beam master stateroom and two adjacent guest staterooms (all with en suite heads), are forward and to port. Forward and to starboard, you’ll find steps leading up to a nicely arranged pilothouse with a single helm seat and an adjacent settee with table. A day head is located next to the steps, just abaft the galley.
The 107’s galley, referred to as the “country kitchen,” offers an adjacent dining and lounging area that would be an ideal place to relax with friends and family after a long day of cruising. The U-shaped galley provides granite countertops, a surprising amount of cabinet stowage and a collection of upscale stainless steel appliances -- including a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer, a KitchenAid dishwasher, a warming oven, a Dacor wall oven, a microwave oven and a Dacor cooktop. There’s a small breakfast bar and a roomy settee and table, forward and to port.
Steps lead belowdecks to a second cluster of two guest staterooms, each with its own head compartment. Crew quarters, entered through a transom door, offer two more staterooms, two heads and a mini galley area with a full-size Maytag washer and dryer.
Buyer Satisfaction Is Job #1
“When we deliver a new boat, West Bay puts a tech guy on board with the owner, to help him get to know the boat and feel comfortable operating all its features,” Danzig said.
And customer support throughout the years of West Bay ownership remains constant: West Bay works with both service yards and customers to make sure the pleasureboat owning experience remains a pleasure.
A whopping 35 percent of West Bay’s customers are repeat buyers. “That tells the whole story: These guys are happy -- and we look after them, to keep them that way,” Danzig explained.
When the Vermeulens complete their long West Bay SonShip 107 shakedown cruise, they will no doubt be tanned, rested and ready for their next boat building challenge. Meanwhile, the 107 -- and many other new West Bay motoryacht models -- will be ready to satisfy the needs of future owners, thanks to improvements made based on the Vermeulens’ months of running this boat in real-world cruising conditions.
“The advantage of building a boat and running it ourselves is that, by the time we are finished, we will know -- exactly -- what features, equipment and capabilities a boat of this type should have,” Ben Vermeulen explained.
What better testing could a future West Bay SonShip owner ask for?
CONTACT: West Bay SonShip Yachts Ltd., Delta, B.C.; (604) 946-6226; (604) 946-8722; www.west-bay.com